One of the best of the second generation of rural cemeteries inspired by Mount Auburn Cemetery (NC1; 1831) in Cambridge and Watertown, Sleepy Hollow shelters the remains of the key figures of the Concord literary renaissance. In 1855, the town purchased twenty-five acres of exceptional beauty to create a landscaped cemetery and commissioned H. W. S. Cleveland to lay out the grounds, emphasizing the natural qualities of the wooded hilly site. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a member of the cemetery committee, gave the consecration address. Henry David Thoreau oversaw the digging of Cat's Pond, following Cleveland's designs. On “Authors Ridge” are buried the remains of Emerson, Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the Alcotts.
As the popularity of Sleepy Hollow increased, the town purchased in 1867 the adjacent property of the Middlesex County Agricultural Society, thus connecting Sleepy Hollow to the New Burying Ground (1823). In 1888, Ernest Bowditch, who had designed Walnut Hills Cemetery in Brookline (BR43; 1874–1876), was retained to create a new master plan for the expanded cemetery. However, pressure for new interments had so increased by 1893 that the town restricted future lot sales to Concord residents. Ever-greater tourist visitation continued. In 1908–1909, the attraction of the graves of literary figures was augmented by the creation of the Melvin Memorial, a monumental sculptural composition by Concord native Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon to commemorate the death of three brothers in the Civil War. Still today, the transcendentalism of Concord writers can be experienced in the pastoral beauty of this natural site.